Staff reports will be posted here as they become available.
The Rev. Kevin M. Goodman
I began my ministry as your interim rector on Sunday, September 20th. But the people of St. Elisabeth’s had been on quite a journey during 2019 before I showed up! Daphne’s husband accepted a teaching fellowship in Morocco. Daphne discerned that she would accompany him and, with a heavy heart, determined that the timing was right for her to resign as rector. St. Elisabeth’s rallied together to show their love and gratitude for her ministry and sent them off with several beautiful celebrations. Additionally, the congregation took the CAT – a Congregational Assessment Tool – which provided insight into the interim period ahead. St. Elisabeth’s began entering into a transitional time, a gap in-between here and there. In the midst of grief of saying good-bye to the Cody’s, the congregation has been energized as we work towards the future during this gap year.
Gaps create space for opportunity. Gaps make room for change and discernment. Gaps provide new views through old windows. Gaps invite changes and sometimes difficult decisions. In the gap, things happen. We must be mindful of the gaps in our lives. Gaps are created when change is necessary, time prevents engagement, life’s realities demand our attention and take precedent, and uncertainty about spiritual reality takes the foreground.
I believe an interim’s primary work is addressing stagnation, identifying passions, hearing stories, and tweaking mission and ministry. During this gap year, my work includes holding up challenges to the congregation’s growth both spiritually and physically. I believe a congregation cannot grow unless a certain level of spiritual certainty and maturity is in place providing a firm foundation for everything else to occur. Missional fixes take time, commitment, work and imagination. Technical fixes are easy.
My interim ministry is composed of three phases which often occur concurrently – listening, responding and preparing. Attention to each phase is moveable based on contextual realities. There are two primary challenges during life in the gap; claiming congregational realities and acknowledging missional aspirations.
Although we might identify wanting to deepen our spiritual lives and being more inviting to families with children, important questions need to be answered. What time am I willing to give to St. Elisabeth’s beyond a Sunday morning? The truth of our individual answers plots a realistic course of the work ahead. Where are we as a congregation? (Reality) Where do we say we want to be? (Aspirational)
The congregation of St. Elisabeth’s stated desires are:
- to make necessary changes to attract families with children and youth to our church.
- to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to reach new people and incorporate them into the life of the church.
- to provide more opportunities for Christian education and spiritual formation at every age and stage of life.
- to create more opportunities for people to form meaningful relationships.
To make these desires a reality within this congregation’s mission, I believe two questions must be answered: What am I willing to give up to help St. Elisabeth’s live into these missional objectives? Where in my life am I able to make room for my spiritual journey at St. Elisabeth’s? The journey across the gap is the work ahead. Only honest answers will empower us to move without stickiness within time and space. I believe we each need to be real about what we can give to St. Elisabeth’s. What time can I devote beyond Sunday? What financial resources am I willing to pledge so that we can do these things? How much time am I willing to spend in community in order to deepen my spirituality?
I am mindful of the gaps I’ve encountered. This space in-between is fundamentally recognizing a gap between personal belief and behavior. When applied to a congregational context, gaps inform decisions regarding journey between points “a” and “b.” During this time of minding the gap of a congregation, we are invited to acknowledge and claim the gaps in our lives and see how they influence and impact one’s ability to serve the congregation.
My initial work with you has included some missional objectives and some technical fixes. I have truly loved hearing the stories of our people. These one-on-one intentional conversations have revealed incredible and inspiring spiritual journeys coupled with a deep hope of wanting to know God. I loved my breakfast with the acolytes where I was inspired by our young people’s dedication to serving on the altar We also discussed ways to take this ministry of service to the next level and I look forward to working with the acolytes further. I am grateful for the establishment of the Communications Task Force where we are discovering ways to tell our story in internetland. I am also being constantly challenged to figure out a concrete, sustainable formation model based on hopes and resources. Technical fixes have included a website refresh, creating a database with volunteer management and online payment integration, and a significant upgrade to our phone and internet which I hope is complete by the time you read this (although I am not holding my breath!)
As my interim ministry continues with you, I believe we are called examine and name challenges for leaders and disciple during busy times.
Three primary areas of focus which have emerged:
- Formation for Adults and Children – FOCUS QUESTIONS – What is currently happening regarding formation? What is working? What is not? What changes need to occur before the new rector is in place?
- Leadership Development – FOCUS QUESTIONS – Who is hanging out where and doing what? What hopes, expressed in the CAT, can we start organizing and empowering leadership to do? What are willing to pay for? What are we willing to do? What are our untapped resources?
- Missional Budget – FOCUS QUESTIONS – If a visitor asks to see our budget, what missional story does our budget tell? What story do the numbers tell about the mission of the congregation? How have we budgeted and committed to ministry that transforms our lives, the community of Glencoe, Chicago and the world?
I feel incredibly blessed to serve as your interim rector. I am grateful that our time together has yielded incredible momentum as we prepare for your new rector. I ask your prayers for all of us as we listen to God, to each other, and to the community around us, proclaiming boldly that God is with us in the midst of the challenges and celebrations of our lives. There is no place where God is not. May we proclaim this boldly and loudly.
2019 was certainly a big year for St. Elisabeth’s. I remember when Daphne first told me about her decision to leave for Morocco and thinking, what have I gotten myself into? Fast forward to today, and seeing how engaged and committed everyone is to this place has left me amazed and grateful. By any yardstick, we are doing well. Average Sunday attendance is up. We have more projects spinning at once than at any time I can remember here. And financially, more than half our parishioners increased their pledge from 2019 to 2020. Thank you!
The farewell celebration last July for the Codys was beautiful and bittersweet. It was profound to reflect on all that’s happened during the past 14 years — we articulated an identity and mission – to radiate God’s love within and beyond our red doors – that went beyond words and into real actions. We formed teams to host events that promoted greater interfaith and intercultural understanding, and opened our hearts and minds to fully accepting the LGBTQ community. We became the first church in Glencoe to marry a same sex couple, welcomed Rabbis and an Imam to share their views with us, and hosted a group of Catholics from France on a spiritual pilgrimage. In the spring of 2019, a group of our parishioners went on their own pilgrimage to the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, to explore the history of lynching and slavery and better understand the impact its left on our country. The point is, over the past few years we learned more about who we are — that we are not just a group of people who want communion on Sunday. We’re here by choice to learn, grow, and connect to our world and put our Christian faith into practice.
The departure of the Codys was hard and unexpected, but at the same time, we’re moving forward with a new sense of energy and purpose. I’m grateful that we have Kevin Goodman as our Interim. There’s a new energy about this place, and working with Kevin has been a non-stop flow of new ideas, stretching us to live out our mission and challenging us in good ways. Second, we kicked off our Search Committee with a terrific group of people. Every person we asked to serve last summer said yes, which tells you a lot about St. Elisabeth’s. Alongside all our day to day work, our vestry and B&G teams are working double time to improve and update our building to be more welcoming, more secure, and more functional.
I can’t wait for 2020. There are so many good things happening that its sometimes hard to keep track. This is a time for leaders like you to raise their hand and jump in. Lets make this an even better place for our new future Rector, but more importantly for ourselves. Whether you have a passion for formation and parish social events, spiritual reflection and prayer, or picking up a hammer and paint brush (though not at the same time), just say so. We’re here to do things. Lets make it happen!
We began our 2019 musical adventure by exploring music from many different cultures all around the world. During the Epiphany season, we sang our Fraction Anthem “Bendice, Señor, nuestra pan,” in Spanish, which is a traditional Argentinian song and translated as “God bless to us our bread.” “Sh’ma Yisrael” was used as our Song of Praise; the text comes from the book of Deuteronomy and can be translated from Hebrew as “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The music for the setting of the Great Thanksgiving came from a traditional Punjabi melody often associated with the hymn “Saranam, Saranam.” Using this music from around the world was the perfect way to begin services that looked to celebrate our longing for creation to be united in God’s love by worshipping with the rich diversity of many cultures, tongues, and faith traditions. The Light was truly shining through our liturgy!
Our journey into the Lenten season began with our Ash Wednesday service. For this special weeknight service, we moved to the intimate space in the back of the Church. Rich Lesperance led the music for the service with his guitar, as I was directing the choirs at Lake Forest College on this holy evening. During Holy Week, we came together on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. On Maundy Thursday, as we shared the Agape Supper with one another, we sang very reflective selections together – many of them from the Taizé community. The following day, we moved back into the space in the back of the Church where a small gathering of us prayed, chanted, and read the Passion from the Gospel of John together.
We were excited to welcome seven singers for Lake Forest college on Easter Day, and out sixteen person choir filled the church while singing, with great gusto, Luis Bojos’ “¡Aleluya! Cristo Resucitó,” translated from Spanish as “Alleluia! Christ is Risen.” We also welcomed Florian Vining, a senior at New Trier High School, as our trumpeter for the day.
On March 17, many of us took part in engaging discussions for second annual “All Parish Eyes on Worship Day.” After the 10:00 service, we gathered in the Guild Room for lunch, followed by four breakout sessions where the participating parishioners both examined how we currently worship here at St. Elisabeth’s, and dreamt about ways we could worship here in the future. Those four topics included looking at how we could build on the success of Outdoor Worship on the Chapel Terrace that came out of 2018’s “Worship Day,” exploring other images of God and pieces of art that we could display in the church during different seasons of the year, considering how we could make our sanctuary a more welcoming and creative space, and reflecting on how worshipping here impacts us. There was positive energy in all of the group conversations, and creative ideas were given around each topic. I am especially grateful to Kara Superfine, who provided us with the delicious lunch and set up all of the spaces that were used.
In May, a forum took place for some further discussion around the four worship topics. Daphne and I had been in the process of reviewing the many notes taken from the breakout groups, and shared what we learned and where it seemed to be leading us. There was also a chance for those that weren’t able to attend Worship Day to offer a few thoughts. I also followed up with individuals who shared particular interest in one of the topics, having one-on-one meeting with several people to gauge what we could take on next.
All throughout the year, the choir helped to lead the music and liturgy at every 10:00 service by bolstering the congregational singing, often adding harmony, and by singing marvelous anthems on many Sundays. We gather together and rehearse on Sunday mornings, September through May, from 8:45am to 9:45am. The choir concluded the 2018-2019 choral year on June 6, the Day of Pentecost. We were invited to sing at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, as our entire congregation worshipped there to support Duke Baur and Lizzy Arnell as they were confirmed. As customary for the choir, the choir then moved into their time off for the summer months… with one exception!
During the summer, we had the chance to worship out on the Chapel Terrace for our 10:00 service. On June 14 and July 16, Rich Lesperance, Paul Lucas, Jim Baur, and John Arnell joined me to lead the music. The guitars and djembe (drum) were welcome sounds as we shared in shorter, easier pieces that were sang “paperless” – all either in call and response form or with simple phrases that were quickly learned. On June 23, we welcomed back former Director of Music, Beau Surratt, on our Pride Celebration Sunday. He and I played organ and piano duets throughout the service as a thank you to Daphne and her championing great music during her tenure as Rector of St. Elisabeth’s.
Our bittersweet goodbye to the Cody family took place on Sunday, July 21. The choir was back to sing blessings to Daphne, Jason, Mae, and Claire as they readied themselves to depart for new adventures. We welcomed Delaney Hart, who accompanied a few pieces on violin, as the choir also sang J. Aaron McDermott’s “I Thank My God When I Remember You.” This emotional piece, based on Philippians chapter 1, was offered as a tribute to Daphne. We also gave our most sincere of thanks to Jason and Mae, who have been faithful members of the choir for many years while here at St. Elisabeth’s.
I am thrilled that Claire Olson, our choral intern from Lake Forest College, returned to sing with us again for the 2019-2020 choral year. The choir reassembled, in full force, for the September 15 service. The following week, we welcomed Kevin Goodman as our interim rector. It wasn’t long before Kevin has us singing rock – yes, rock music! On October 6, the choir sang “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads… and we had a blast doing it.
Our next big undertaking was preparing for the Advent Lessons and Carols Service on December 16, and the Christmas Eve Service. Both services featured powerful and moving musical offerings, including Zebulon Highben’s “The Spirit of the Lord” and Victor Johnson’s stunning arrangement of “The Wexford Carol.” I am so thankful to the choir for putting in the hard work to make these services so special, including a fun night of rehearsal, dinner, and drinks at my house. Any and all are invited to come and join the fun. We have plenty of robes and folders for you to experience singing in the choir!
The next big thing that came out of our parish discussions from “All Eyes on Worship Day” was that the Christus Rex (Christ the King) cross that hangs on the wall behind the altar came down during Advent. For the four Sundays of Advent, projections were shown on the wall that paralleled the themes of the day. The images gave us another way to encounter our faith. Our hope was that, while sitting in the congregation, worshippers could ponder where they saw themselves in the stories and songs and images we used throughout the service. Several parishioners have commented that they’d like to build on what was experienced by having different images in our worship space.
I cannot end without thanking the many wonderful instrumentalists that helped to make our services so Spirit-filled: Rich Lesperance, Paul Lucas, Anna Lesperance, Jim Baur, Jackie Totsch, Mae Cody, Claire Cody, Delaney Hart, Florian Vining, and John Arnell, as well as guest vocalists Kat Evans, Cassidhe Hart, Mimi Newcomb, Susan Newcomb, Kim Gdovichin, Elizabeth Rossiter, and Brian Green, who all joined in with our choir at different points throughout the year. It was an honor having all of you participate in our services.
I am beyond grateful for the musical offerings of 2019, and am thrilled to see what 2020 has in store for our music, liturgy, and worship here at St. Elisabeth’s!
2019 has been an eventful year. I have been here at St. Elisabeth’s (excluding my year away) for about five years and 9 months. We wished a fond farewell to the Cody family. We welcomed our Interim Kevin Goodman. It was sad to see Daphne go, but it has been very exciting to see what comes next. We are in the midst bringing the office into a more efficient set up. We have a new data base for parishioners and ministries. This will allow stream lining of the sign ups and the ministry group reminders. We will be utilizing that more and more as time goes on, so keep an eye out. We can even create a picture directory if we can get the data base set up that way. It is very exciting. We are getting a new phone carrier as soon as they can run the wires to the building, our old system died very suddenly. We have continued to send out our monthly Voice Newsletter to about 100 people. We also send out the eReflections every week.
I began as the Associate for Spiritual Wellness for St. Elisabeth’s in February of 2019. I am a spiritual director who meets one on one with individuals who are interested in pursuing personal and spiritual growth through spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is the exploration of one’s life and faith with a companion who is trained in listening. I am available to meet with parishioners and others from outside the St. Elisabeth’s community. I meet with individuals in the Baehr Library for one hour, once a month, for an agreed upon fee.
In 2019, I met with four parishioners on a regular basis for spiritual direction. I am looking forward to presenting about various spiritual practices at three Sunday forums in February and March of 2020. The three topics will be: Anglican prayer beads; the Labyrinth; and two Christian methods of meditation: Centering Prayer and the Maranatha Mantra of the World Communion for Christian Meditation.